Stories indexed with the term ‘Ann Arbor Environmental Commission’

Environmental, Planning, Greenbelt Appts. OK’d

Four nominations to three different commissions were confirmed by the Ann Arbor city council at its July 2, 2012 meeting. Ken Clein and Kirk Westphal were confirmed for the city planning commission. John German was confirmed for the city’s environmental commission. And Archer Christian was confirmed for the greenbelt advisory commission. All appointments were made on unanimous votes by the council, which is typical.

The nominations for all four appointments were made at the council’s previous meeting, on June 21, 2012. The city planning commission nominations are made by the mayor, which is the case for the vast majority of board and commission appointments. Nominations to the environmental commission and the greenbelt advisory commission are made by the council as … [Full Story]

Know Your Kirk: Public Servant

About six years ago, Kirk Westphal was living in New York City with his wife, Cynthia. So it’s a fair question to ask: “How did you get here?” Sitting in one of the cozy lounge chairs in the the Espresso Royale on Main Street, Wesphal talked about how he gets to places like the café, how he came to his current line of work, and how he made his serendipitous move to Ann Arbor.

Kirk Westphal seems to recognize the guy on his video-editing screen. (Chronicle file photo, June 2010.)

“[My wife and I] were on a run in Central Park one night and we thought, we love New York but we’d be open to going someplace else,” Westphal recalls. When asked by his wife where he would want to move, Westphal’s automatic response was one that surprised her: Ann Arbor. “Her jaw went to the floor, ‘cause she didn’t think I knew anything about Michigan,” Westphal says, “which I didn’t.” The next day, Westphal’s wife searched online for jobs at the University of Michigan, and found an open faculty position at the School of Music. “One thing lead to another and she got that job,” Westphal says. “It was a message.”

Though Westphal may be a recent “import from New York,” he has already accumulated a range of community service experience in his six years here in Ann Arbor. Westphal serves as vice chair of the city’s planning commission, having been a member for four years, and also holds a spot on the environmental commission. He’s also serving on the design guidelines task force that is working on the final piece of the recent rezoning of downtown, known as A2D2. [Full Story]

Building a Sustainable Ann Arbor

About two dozen members of three Ann Arbor commissions gathered last week for a rare joint meeting, a two-hour, wide-ranging discussion focused on the issue of sustainability. Bonnie Bona, chair of the city’s planning commission, said the working session was meant to start a conversation, with the goal of moving the city toward a sustainable future.

David Stead, Jean Carlberg, Fulter Hong

From left: David Stead, Jean Carlberg, and Fulter Hong at an April 13 working session on sustainability. They are members of the environmental, planning and energy commissions, respectively. (Photos by the writer.)

The discussion touched on the conceptual as well as the concrete, with some commissioners urging the group to tackle practical considerations as well. The chairs of each commission – Bona, the energy commission’s Wayne Appleyard, and Steve Bean of the environmental commission – set the stage by talking about the roles of their appointed public bodies, and how sustainability might be incorporated into their work.

Specific ideas discussed during the session included financing energy improvements in households through a special self-assessment on property tax bills, and tapping expertise at the University of Michigan.

More than midway through the meeting they were joined by Terry Alexander, executive director of UM’s Office of Campus Sustainability. He described UM’s efforts at implementing sustainable practices on campus as well as creating a living/learning environment for students, teaching them what it means to be a “green citizen.”

Toward the end of the meeting, Bona noted that the issue extended far beyond the three commissions gathered around the table. Housing, parks and other areas need to be involved as well, she said, if they were truly to tackle the three elements of sustainability: environmental quality, social equity, and economic vitality. Bean said he and the other chairs would be meeting again and come up with some specific examples for what steps might be taken next. “You’ll be hearing from us,” he said. [Full Story]